Acute pancreatitis

Adresse

Switzerland

Christian Toso
Professor
Christian Toso
Head of Division

Acute pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas which may lead to serious complications. Its main causes are: gallstones which prevent the flow of pancreatic secretions, excessive alcohol consumption, an excess of fatty food causing an increase in fatty acids in the blood (hypertriglyceridemia), an abnormal rise in calcium levels (hypercalcemia), certain medications, certain endoscopic examinations of the bile ducts as well as genetic causes.

Symptoms and diagnosis of acute pancreatitis

Patients with acute pancreatitis most often suffer from severe pain around the umbilicus, pain which may radiate to the back, fever, and sometimes nausea and vomiting.

The diagnosis is made on the basis of analyzing the blood for pancreatic enzymes, as well as an abdominal CT scan, which shows inflammation of the pancreas.

In some cases, acute pancreatitis can cause necrosis of parts of the pancreas, later leading to pseudocysts (fluid cysts) which are formed after the acute episode. In these cases, the abdominal CT scan is repeated to monitor the progress of the inflammation.

In order to rule out gallstone migration as a cause of pancreatitis, an internal ultrasound (echo-endoscopy (FR)) or an MRI is sometimes performed.

Treatments of acute pancreatitis

Patients suffering from acute pancreatitis should be hospitalized. Treatment includes fasting, painkillers, and eliminating the causes that led to the acute pancreatitis.

In the event of significant pancreatic necrosis and bacterial infection, antibiotics, drainage under radiological control, or surgery may be proposed.

If the cause of the pancreatitis is gallstone migration, a cholecystectomy is performed during the hospital stay. Depending on the case, the procedure can be completed with a sphincterotomy to clear the bile duct.

Necrosis
×
Dead tissue
Necrosis
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Dead tissue
Cholecystectomy
×
surgical procedure removing the gallbladder

More information

Last update : 04/01/2022